Belarus is a country almost perfectly divided between east and west. To the east Russia seems to completely dominate everything. Eighty percent of the people in Belarus speak Russian instead of the native Belarusian. And when you decipher the name Belarus as White Rus or White Russia, there is often even more confusion leading many to mistakenly think Belarus is actually part of Russia. To the west is the border with the European Union and Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Ties with these neighbors are not insignificant. A form of Old Belarusian was the official state language used by the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in medieval times. But with war to the south in Ukraine, Belarus’ border with its European neighbors is looking more like a new Berlin Wall as Russia continues to move toward the kind of isolation not seen since the Cold War. In recent months, the mustachioed president of Belarus has overseen peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Minsk. It’s unclear exactly what the future holds, but perhaps his enthusiasm for authoritarian Soviet-style policies might be wavering a bit after witnessing the fates of Crimea and Ukraine.
I began my trips to Belarus about five years ago to photograph Victory Day, a holiday celebrating the Soviet victory over fascism and Nazi Germany. During the celebrations tractors, military equipment, and factory workers parade through the streets. A vintage USSR flag flies on a radio tower over the city. And red tulips, a symbol of spring and rejuvenation in the USSR, line the streets and are given to war veterans as a way of thanking them for their service. It can be disorienting and feel like you are traveling back in time to the USSR or a perfectly preserved Stalinist museum. I soon discovered that many other Soviet-style holidays like October Revolution Day and May Day are also still observed in Belarus. I returned year after year to photograph them. In a way, though, the holidays were more of a backdrop to my project, a way of following the path of official culture while looking for something more personal. I would often wander off the trail in an effort to seek more intimacy and understanding of a world that should be part of the dead USSR past, but is stubbornly resilient in the present.
I’m now ready to publish a book of the TULIPS photographs.I will self-publish TULIPS as I did with my DISKO book that I successfully funded through Kickstarter last year.I really love the DIY -DO IT YOURSELF- approach to publishing and being able to make a book exactly how I think it should be.The resulting book is then more of an object or artwork in itself and not just a catalog of photographs.I had a lot of success with DISKO and it was featured in several magazines and on some great websites like VICE, BuzzFeed, and CBS News.
In addition to the book I’m also planning exhibitions in Lithuania and Belarus that will include photographs, videos from the project, and performances by some of the people I photographed.The goal is to have the first event on Victory Day in Minsk on May 9th, 2015.
140 pages / hardcover / 109 color photographs / 9 x 11 inches / Layout and Design by Claudia Ott and Andrew Miksys / Publication date: May 9, 2015 / 1000 copies / 50 Limited Edition copies with three signed prints and box
I am working again with Claudia Ott on the layout and design for TULIPS. I love her design and had a great experience working with her on DISKO.
www.thetulipsproject.com is where I am sharing stories, photographs, and videos from TULIPS. Registration is required to see the site.
Design by Jura Shust
From TULIPS book text by Laimonas Breidis:
“Photographer Andrew Miksys, a seasoned traveler, ventures into the spring of Belarus with the eye of a magician. He knows the local terrain well: the distant officialdom and intimate circles, public and private, open and secret, cynical and welcoming, recorded and discarded, winter and summer, the risky future and the scarcity of hope. In search of the space in between, he builds his itinerary as a conceptual trick, following the ideological formulas in expectation of finding the human landscape. Thus, his photographs are not so much a record of Belarus in bloom – an archive of an official jubilation – but a diorama of the solitude of the celebration. Elegiac in color, this marvelous exposé registers Belarus in disjunction. In his photographs of national holidays, however, Miksys enters not only the fractured nature of Belarus or its inherently split personality, but also the twofold reality of the country."
3 Prints for DELUXE EDITION:
TULIPS tote bag:
EDITION PRINTS: 20 x 24 inch edition prints ($1200 pledge) can be selected from TULIPS or one of my previous projects, DISKO, PLASTIC FLOWERS or BAXT. Prints are from edition of 9 and come with signed certificate of authenticity. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Sample image from DISKO series:
Sample image from PLASTIC FLOWERS series:
Sample image from BAXT series:
Previous Kickstarter book project: DISKO
Preview of book on VIMEO from photobookstore.co.uk HERE.
DISKO Deluxe Edition custom handmade box with pink velvet lining:
Preview of Deluxe Edition on Viemo HERE.
View Lithuanian Embassy in London official Facebook page HERE or below.
Risks and challenges
Self-publishing is filled with challenges. It's extremely important to manage every small detail from the design of the book to choosing materials and paper, to preparing files for print. While working on my DISKO book, I was able to assemble a great team. I'm confident I'll be able to achieve the same quality with TULIPS. Sometimes there are small delays. The release of DISKO was delayed by a month when I decided to reprint a page due to one misspelled word. Yes, every detail matters! However, I'll do everything I can to print and ship TULIPS on schedule.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (36 days)